The time has finally come. The season is here, and now everything matters for real. It seems like forever ago that New England's Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson in Super Bowl 49, and so much has happened since then in leading up to this moment.
We've had Deflategate where Tom Brady was suspended for four games and then that suspension was overturned. A new class of rookies brings hope, and plenty of veterans have changed teams to alter their Fantasy value. Fantasy standouts Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin were lost for the year with torn ACL injuries, and we're still waiting for a timetable on Arian Foster (groin).
But as we open the 2015 season with the Steelers and Patriots on Thursday night, every Fantasy owner can start fresh. The chance for a new title is available for everyone in every league, and we hope you're excited. It should be a fun season, and hopefully we can guide you along the way with suggestions to help with your lineup.
Our job is not to set your lineup for you, and that would ruin the fun. We can just give you our opinion on players who have the chance to do well or those who can fail. Choose to follow our advice if you want, but the decision on who to start or sit should rest with you. This is your chance to be a general manager, and we hope you embrace it.
Start of the Week: Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers
Jonathan Stewart carried the Panthers into the playoffs last year, and there's a good chance he will do that again this season. He has the chance to be a standout Fantasy running back in 2015, and he should start off with a great performance at Jacksonville in Week 1.
Last year, with Cam Newton struggling and the offense in need of a boost, Stewart took over and showed his ability that has teased us for most of his career. He had either 100 total yards or a touchdown in four of his final seven games, including the playoffs, and the Panthers should make him the focal point on offense with Benjamin out.
Stewart likely has little competition for carries with Fozzy Whitaker and Cameron Artis-Payne behind him on the depth chart, and the only concern for Stewart aside from injury is losing touchdowns to Newton or Mike Tolbert. We'll see how that shakes out during the season, but he has a great opportunity against the Jaguars this week.
Jacksonville struggled in run defense in 2014 with 14 running backs getting double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league, and the Jaguars are banged up on the defensive line coming into this matchup. Stewart was drafted as a borderline starter in the majority of leagues, but I'm expecting a big year from him in 2015 and a standout performance in Week 1.
Sam Bradford (at ATL): We promise, everything won't be so rosy with Bradford as the season moves on, but if the preseason counted he might have won MVP. His comeback from two torn ACL injuries is going as good as could be, including a 10-of-10 passing performance and three touchdowns in the third preseason game against the Packers. He should stay hot against the Falcons, who should be a work in progress defensively. Last year, Atlanta allowed six quarterbacks to pass for multiple touchdowns, and Bradford has Top 10 potential in Week 1. If he stays healthy, Bradford could easily be a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback this season.
Tom Brady (vs. PIT): So deflategate ended up being full of hot air as Brady had his four-game suspension nullified. He'll play in this game, and he should dominate. The Steelers aren't expected to have a good defense with a limited pass rush, and the Patriots aren't going to come out and lean on their running game with LeGarrette Blount (suspended) out. I do like Brandon Bolden as a sleeper, but this game is all about Brady. He should put on a show against the Steelers, and he has a good track record against them with an average of 327 passing yards and three touchdowns in his past three meetings. Brady could easily be the No. 1 Fantasy quarterback this week.
Eli Manning (at DAL): This game has the chance to be high scoring, which is why Manning and Tony Romo are great plays this week in the majority of leagues. Last year, both games went above 50 points, and Manning did his part with 586 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. He has 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in his past four meetings with the Cowboys, including two matchups with at least 338 passing yards. The Cowboys lost cornerback Orlando Scandrick (torn ACL) for the season, and Odell Beckham, Rueben Randle and Larry Donnell should have the chance for positive production. This should be a fun game to watch.
Ryan Tannehill (at WAS): The Redskins have had a miserable offseason, and Tannehill hopes to keep those bad vibes going with a strong performance in the opening game. Washington is working on a bad streak that should work in Tannehill's favor as the past five opposing quarterbacks to face the Redskins in 2014 each passed for multiple touchdowns, with 14 touchdowns over that span, and Andrew Luck and Mark Sanchez each topping 370 passing yards. Tannehill was sharp in the preseason and gets a new toy in rookie receiver DeVante Parker, who is expected to play in Week 1 despite coming off a foot injury this offseason. There's a lot to like about Tannehill this year, including this matchup against the Redskins.
Carson Palmer (vs. New Orleans): There's a lot to like about Palmer this year, including this matchup with the Saints. He is healthy after last year's torn ACL, and we expect him to play at a high level like he did in 2014. Palmer played in five full games last year, and he scored at least 20 Fantasy points in all of them. The Saints come into this matchup with a banged-up secondary, including cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip) out. Palmer also could get back receiver Michael Floyd (hand) for this game, which would give him another standout weapon to attack this defense. In three home games where Palmer played the whole outing he averaged 294 passing yards with six total touchdowns.
Teddy Bridgewater (at SF): His sophomore breakout campaign starts now.
Marcus Mariota (at TB): He gets an easy opponent to make his NFL debut.
Andy Dalton (at OAK): If good Andy shows up he'll have a big day on the road.
Russell Wilson (at STL): This is obviously a risky call to sit a quarterback of Wilson's caliber, especially since he was drafted as a Top 5 starter in the majority of leagues and has new weapons in Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett. But the Rams are ridiculously tough against tight ends (see below for Graham), and the St. Louis pass rush is going to get after Wilson behind what could be a suspect offensive line. Wilson was amazing at St. Louis last season with 40 Fantasy points, including 106 rushing yards and a touchdown, but he's averaged just 13 Fantasy points a game in his other five meetings with the Rams. Not many of you can afford to sit Wilson, but don't be surprised if he struggles in the season opener.
Joe Flacco (at DEN): There are a lot of quarterbacks this week who could post big stats, including Flacco. He actually played well on the road last year, which is rare for him, scoring at least 20 Fantasy points in three games away from Baltimore. He last played at Denver in the season opener in 2013 and passed for 362 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but he attempted 62 passes in that outing. We doubt he'll throw that much, and I'd only consider using him in two-quarterback leagues. The good news is Denver is without two starters in defensive end Derek Wolfe and safety T.J. Ward due to suspension. The bad news is he's facing his former coordinator in Gary Kubiak, who should know most of his tendencies.
Colin Kaepernick (vs. MIN): Kaepernick closed last season on a high note with at least 26 Fantasy points in his final two outings against San Diego and Arizona, both at home, so hopefully that momentum will carry over to this week. He spent the offseason working on his mechanics, and the 49ers gave him improved weapons with Torrey Smith and Reggie Bush. But his offensive line is worse, and the matchup against the Vikings could be tough. Minnesota was among the league leaders in fewest Fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, and this Vikings defense should continue to improve in their second year under Mike Zimmer. I'd only trust Kaepernick in two-quarterback leagues at this point in the season.
Cam Newton (at JAC): We're expecting the Panthers to lean on the run game this week, which makes sense given Carolina's receiving corps. Rookie Devin Funchess isn't ready to be a significant contributor in light of the Benjamin injury, and although Greg Olsen is a standout tight end, the game plan should not be featured around Corey Brown and Ted Ginn. Newton could always make plays running the ball, so keep that in mind, but the Jaguars actually closed last season by allowing just one quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns in their final six games, including Luck, Eli Manning and Flacco. They should keep Newton in check this week.
Jay Cutler (vs. GB): The first thing you have to do with Cutler is continue to monitor the health of standout receiver Alshon Jeffery, who has battled a calf injury for weeks. Should he sit against the Packers then Cutler is easily a sit candidate in all formats. But if Jeffery plays as expected then that puts Cutler back in the mix in two-quarterback leagues. He has an inconsistent history against the Packers with nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his past five meetings, and he's averaged just 17 Fantasy points against Green Bay going back to 2011. We could see a situation where Cutler, if he has a healthy Jeffery, is racking up stats in a comeback effort, but I'm not banking on that in Week 1. I'd only start Cutler as a second quarterback in two-quarterback leagues.
Bust alert: Matthew Stafford (at SD): I'm excited about Stafford's outlook this season, and I wouldn't be surprised if he played well this week. After all, he has a healthy Calvin Johnson, and that's always a good guy to have on your side in any contest. But the Chargers have a standout secondary led by Eric Weddle and Brandon Flowers, and Stafford struggled on the road last season with an average of 16 Fantasy points a game over eight outings. Much like Wilson, many Fantasy owners can't afford to bench Stafford this week, so we understand your dilemma at quarterback if you're concerned about the matchup. Just lower your expectations and hope Stafford plays well on the road in Week 1.
Andre Ellington (vs. NO): You're going to want to use Ellington most weeks when he's healthy, and he appears at full strength heading into Week 1 against the Saints. The Cardinals could get cute and give Chris Johnson or David Johnson work this week, but look for Ellington to lead the backfield in touches in a favorable matchup. Last year, New Orleans allowed 14 running backs to reach double digits in Fantasy points, and hopefully Ellington can overcome some offensive line issues to show off his dual-threat ability. He has a chance for 100 total yards in this game, and hopefully he can find the end zone as well.
Doug Martin (vs. TEN): Let's hope one of the preseason stars keeps it rolling into the regular season with a favorable matchup against the Titans. Martin looked like his rookie self in the preseason with solid performances against the Bengals in Week 2 and Cleveland in Week 3. He had a good preseason last year before struggling out of the gate, so hopefully he doesn't disappoint us again. I'm buying into Martin this week, and we'll see what happens from here. The best way for Tampa Bay to take pressure off rookie quarterback Jameis Winston is to establish the run, and the Titans were among the easiest teams to run on last year with the second-most Fantasy points allowed to the position. We'll see if that continues in 2015, but Martin is a safe starting option this week.
Chris Ivory (vs. CLE): The Browns run defense should be improved this season with the addition of nose tackle Danny Shelton, but I'd still gamble on Ivory this week as a starter in the majority of leagues. He'll be the featured back for the Jets, and Ivory did well last season when he got a decent workload with at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league in eight of the 12 games he had double digits in carries. New offensive coordinator Chan Gailey also appears comfortable using Ivory in the passing game, which would be a welcomed surprise, and we'll see if Cleveland can shore up its run defense problems with Shelton. Last year, 12 running backs reached double digits in Fantasy points against the Browns, including three in a row to close the season. Let's hope Ivory keeps that streak going into the start of this year.
Rashad Jennings (at DAL): The Giants running back situation could get messy during the year with Jennings, Shane Vereen and Andre Williams all expected to be a factor at some point. It could even happen this week if Vereen works on passing downs as expected and Williams gets short-yardage opportunities. Jennings will be the starter, and unless this game gets quickly out of hand for the Giants and Vereen dominates touches then you can expect Jennings to get plenty of work. He had over 100 total yards against the Cowboys in Week 12 last year, and 11 running backs reached double digits in Fantasy points against Dallas in 2014. Vereen is a great sleeper in Week 1 in PPR leagues, and Jennings also looks like a solid No. 2 running back in this matchup.
Latavius Murray (vs. CIN): The Bengals are going to be a tough team to run against, even without standout linebacker Vontaze Burfict (knee), who is on the PUP list. But Murray is going to get a heavy workload, and we expect him to deliver as a quality No. 2 running back this week. He did well last season to close the year with at least 85 total yards in four of his final five games, and the Raiders plan to feature him on offense this season with only Taiwan Jones and Roy Helu behind him. Cincinnati only allowed two running backs to rush for 100 yards last year, but 15 still managed double digits in Fantasy points. We expect Murray to be in that range this week.
Ameer Abdullah (at SD): He and Joique Bell can both do well this week.
T.J. Yeldon (vs. CAR): Tough matchup, but JAC should lean on him.
Danny Woodhead (vs. DET): He'll be the best RB for SD this week.
Joseph Randle (vs. NYG): He's the DAL rusher to trust this week.
Ryan Mathews (at ATL): A sneaky flex option given the matchup.
Alfred Morris (vs. MIA): There aren't going to be many teams that have success running against the Dolphins with the addition of Ndamukong Suh, and Miami's defense should rank near the top of the league in run defense this year. Washington has a shaky offensive line at best, and Kirk Cousins starting at quarterback should mean plenty of teams stacking the line of scrimmage to stop Morris. He only had one 100-yard outing last year, and he'll likely need a touchdown to save his production this week. While most Fantasy owners can't afford to bench Morris in the majority of leagues, I'd avoid him this week if possible based on the matchup.
Alfred Blue (vs. KC): Blue will get the first crack at replacing Foster this week, and we'll see how long of a leash he gets if the running game struggles. He started three games for Foster as a rookie in 2014 and had just one game with double digits in Fantasy points, so we're not overly optimistic. The Texans will likely use Jonathan Grimes on passing downs, and Chris Polk could get some work if Blue struggles. Last year, the Chiefs allowed the fewest touchdowns to running backs with five, so Blue might only be worth using as a flex option in deeper leagues.
Isaiah Crowell (at NYJ): Crowell has a great opportunity in front of him as the starter for the Browns behind what should be a capable offensive line. And this week, he could get a heavy workload with Duke Johnson (concussion) banged up. But the Browns looked bad running the ball in the preseason, and Crowell hasn't exactly been a bright spot for Cleveland in training camp and the preseason with his poor performance. The Jets will miss defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson (suspension) for this game, but the game plan will likely be to stop Crowell and force Josh McCown to throw. We expect the Jets to have success in this matchup, and Crowell is just a flex option at best this week.
Tevin Coleman (vs. PHI): Coleman will be the starter for the Falcons in his NFL debut with Devonta Freeman (hamstring) banged up. Freeman could still play, which would impact Coleman, and the Falcons could also give work to Terron Ward on passing downs. We didn't see much of Coleman in the preseason because he also battled a hamstring injury, and he was dominated against Miami in the third preseason game before showing flashes of his ability in the fourth game against Baltimore. There's always the chance of a big play with Coleman, but I want to see him play well in real action before trusting him. And if the Falcons are chasing points in this matchup it's doubtful Coleman will get much playing time until he proves he can pass protect to help Matt Ryan.
DeAngelo Williams (at NE): In a desperate situation you can definitely turn to Williams this week, who will get the start in the season opener against the Patriots with Le'Veon Bell (suspended) out. The Steelers have little behind Williams to take him off the field, and the offense is expected to remain the same despite Bell's absence. I expect this game to fall into Ben Roethlisberger's hands in what should be a shootout, and I don't want to trust Williams in Week 1, especially with center Maurkice Pouncey (leg) also out. It's been 17 games since Williams, 32, reached double digits in Fantasy points, and 29 games since he ran for 100 yards. It would be nice to see him do well as Bell's replacement, but it seems risky for Week 1.
Bust alert: Melvin Gordon (vs. DET): We'll find out if Gordon's preseason woes are behind him, and hopefully he starts off the season playing well. I'm taking a cautiously optimistic approach with Gordon, and I hope many of you can wait before putting him in your lineup. The Chargers will have little hesitation going with Danny Woodhead early and often if Gordon struggles, and I like Woodhead as the better Chargers running back this week. The Lions run defense definitely takes a hit with Suh gone, but Haloti Ngata should be more than serviceable to help slow down Gordon in this matchup. I would only consider using Gordon as a flex option.
Jarvis Landry (at WAS): Landry should prove to be more than a possession receiver this season after he basically stayed just near the line of scrimmage as a rookie in 2014. He did well with 84 catches last season, but he managed just 758 yards and five touchdowns. His route tree should expand in his sophomore campaign, and the Dolphins will rely on him as their No. 1 target for Tannehill. The Redskins will be without cornerback Bashaud Breeland (suspended) for this game, which will impact their secondary, and the Dolphins should be able to get Landry in some mismatches out of the slot. He's poised for a breakout campaign, and he's a solid starting option this week.
Davante Adams (at CHI): The door is open for Adams to have a big season as a starter for the Packers following the injury to Nelson. I wouldn't be concerned about the addition of James Jones impacting Adams, and Aaron Rodgers should use his second-year receiver as the No. 2 option in the passing game behind Randall Cobb. Last year, when Adams was involved he produced. He had four games with at least eight targets in 2014, and in all four games he had at least six catches and 75 yards, including two 100-yard outings. The Bears will struggle to contain this Packers offense, and Adams should see plenty of single coverage. I would expect Rodgers to feature Adams in this game to get his confidence up, and he's a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver in all leagues.
Allen Robinson (vs. CAR): It appear like Carolina cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Josh Norman will be cleared for this matchup after dealing with concussion issues coming into Week 1, but Robinson should still have a good opportunity to succeed. The Jaguars have spent all offseason talking up Robinson, including this week when quarterback Blake Bortles said his second-year receiver will have to help more in the red zone with Julius Thomas (hand) out. Robinson played well last season before suffering a broken foot in Week 10, and he averaged nine targets a game in 2014 as a starter. Allen Hurns is a sleeper in deeper leagues this week, but Robinson has the chance to be a quality Fantasy option in all formats in this matchup.
John Brown (vs. NO): We'll find out if Floyd can play this week, but even if he does suit up I like Brown and Larry Fitzgerald as potential starters in this matchup. Brown, who for some reason is listed No. 3 on the depth chart, should be Arizona's No. 1 receiver this season. And he should take advantage of a Saints secondary missing a key component with Lewis out. The healthy return of Palmer should allow Brown, Fitzgerald and Floyd to all post quality stats this year, and Fitzgerald should be considered a sleeper in Week 1 since Fantasy owners weren't high on him coming into the year. But he played well with Palmer in 2014, and he and Brown have the chance to deliver this week.
Steve Smith (at DEN): Smith might be ready to end his NFL career after this year, but there aren't many receivers who like starting a season better than he does. Since 2010, Smith has five games in a row with double digits in Fantasy points in his first game of the year. Over that span, Smith has averaged seven catches for 106 yards and a touchdown, including last year with seven catches for 118 yards and a touchdown in his Baltimore debut. The Ravens are thin at receiver with Torrey Smith gone and Breshad Perriman (knee) hurt, and Smith should get plenty of targets from Flacco. He does have a potentially tough matchup with Denver cornerback Chris Harris, but we'd love to see Smith renew his rivalry with Aqib Talib. If Talib gets lined up on Smith you can expect Smith to have a big day.
Nelson Agholor (at ATL): PHI should have a field day vs. this defense.
Charles Johnson (at SF): He's ready to take off in his third season.
Kendall Wright (at TB): He should be the best weapon for Mariota.
Rueben Randle (at DAL): No Victor Cruz means good things for Randle.
Steve Johnson (vs. DET): He benefits the most with Gates being out.
DeSean Jackson (vs. MIA): Jackson is expected to play this week despite dealing with a shoulder injury for most of training camp, and he gets a new starting quarterback in Kirk Cousins. The good news for Jackson is he played his best last season when Cousins was the starter with three of his six 100-yard games and three of his six touchdowns coming from Cousins. We hope that connection works again this year, but the Dolphins defense is going to make things tough for the Redskins, and Jackson could struggle with Miami cornerback Brent Grimes. I'd take a cautious approach in starting Jackson this week, and he's just a No. 3 receiver for this matchup with the Dolphins.
Sammy Watkins (vs. IND): Watkins said he feels fine despite dealing with leg problems this offseason, including hip surgery in the spring. He gets a new quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, and we hope that leads to an improved sophomore campaign. But until we see Taylor and Watkins establish a solid rapport, I would treat Watkins as just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver, including this week against the Colts. Vontae Davis should be able to contain Watkins, and the Bills offense could be limited if LeSean McCoy (hamstring) is out. I expect Watkins to improve as the season goes on, but I'd bench him this week in most standard formats if possible.
Roddy White (vs. PHI): White is expected to play this week despite coming off recent minor elbow surgery. He missed time in training camp and the preseason, but he should return to the starting lineup opposite Julio Jones in this matchup against the Eagles. White is expected to see a further decline in production in Kyle Shanahan's new offense, and this should be a tough matchup against the Eagles, who have a revamped secondary with cornerback Byron Maxwell and safety Walter Thurmond. Philadelphia could make a concerted effort to take away Jones, which would help White, but I'd only consider starting him as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in this matchup.
Brandon Marshall (vs. CLE): Marshall has never been one to shy away from a tough matchup, and he gets the benefit of going against Darrelle Revis in practice on a daily basis now with the Jets. He will likely get the chance to square off with Joe Haden this week with the Browns, and it should be fun to watch. You should assume Ryan Fitzpatrick won't shy away from throwing at Marshall even with Haden covering him, but is that really a risk you want to take with your Fantasy roster in Week 1? I expect Marshall to have plenty of good moments this season, but he should only be considered a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best this week against Haden and the Browns.
Markus Wheaton (at NE): Wheaton has been a popular name this offseason with Roethlisberger saying he's in line for a breakout season and then Martavis Bryant being suspended for four games. We'll see if Wheaton takes advantage of the opportunity in his third year, but he also had a big role for the Steelers in 2014 and struggled. He started 11 games last season but didn't score his first touchdown until Week 8 and had just one game with more than five Fantasy points through Week 7. He finished the season with just two touchdowns and only two games with double digits in Fantasy points. He's not a bad gamble as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver given the matchup with New England's revamped secondary, but look for Roethlisberger to lean on Antonio Brown and Heath Miller this week, with Wheaton the No. 3 target at best.
Bust alert: Golden Tate (at SD): Tate's preseason this year was basically an extension of what happened to him in 2014. Calvin Johnson didn't play in the preseason, and Tate had two touchdowns in three games. Go back to 2014, and every time Johnson missed time or was a decoy with ankle problems is when Tate was a star. He only scored four touchdowns last season, and two of them came with Johnson not on the field. Now, he can certainly play well this week, and he seems to be clicking with Stafford based on their preseason performances. But I would expect Johnson to come back as the featured option in this passing game, and Tate will return to his sidekick role. It's not a bad idea to start Robin at times during the season, but don't forget that Batman is the star. Tate should only be a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week.
Jordan Cameron (at WAS): Cameron has the chance to live up to his potential this season if he can stay healthy, and this is a good matchup to get him started. The Redskins struggled with tight ends in 2014 and are dealing with a revamped secondary this season. That could help, and Cameron had a quiet preseason despite Tannehill playing well. But Cameron is worth buying into this week given the lack of standout tight ends for Week 1.
Tyler Eifert (at OAK): Eifert has received a lot of hype coming into the year, and he has to prove himself as a No. 1 option. The Bengals plan to feature him in the passing game, and he should be the No. 2 target for Andy Dalton behind A.J. Green. Like Cameron, this is a good matchup for Eifert to get started since the Raiders have struggled to defend tight ends. Eifert only played in Week 1 last year before hurting his elbow and being lost for the year, so hopefully this first game goes better and helps Eifert fulfill his potential.
Benjamin Watson (at ARI): Watson should be considered one of the top streaming options given the matchup against the Cardinals and his role with the Saints. While Josh Hill was thought to be the Graham replacement this season, it was Watson who continued to work with the first-team offense and play well in the preseason. It's a risk to trust him as a starting option in the majority of leagues, but there's an opportunity for him to thrive as a starter in Week 1 given the matchup. If he struggles this week then you can move on to another tight end off waivers.
Larry Donnell (at DAL): He is worth a flier given the matchup with DAL.
Scott Chandler (vs. PIT): He should benefit with Brandon LaFell out.
Heath Miller (at NE): He should benefit with Martavis Bryant out.
Coby Fleener (at BUF): The Bills were the best team at defending tight ends last season, and they should continue to play well in that regard this year. And the narrative with the Colts should mean Fleener should struggle when everyone is healthy. The Colts will likely use more three-receiver sets than in previous years because of the addition of Andre Johnson and Phillip Dorsett. Dwayne Allen isn't coming off the field much because of his blocking ability, so Fleener could lose targets and production. With the matchup and circumstance, Fleener is someone to avoid in Week 1.
Jordan Reed (vs. MIA): Reed has plenty of potential, but staying healthy has been a problem for him during his career. He wasn't expected to be the starter until Niles Paul (ankle) got hurt, and now we'll see how Reed does with Cousins. He actually had one of his best games with Cousins last year against the Cardinals with eight catches for 92 yards on 11 targets, and we'd love to see more of that from Reed in 2015. But in a tough matchup against the Dolphins it's hard to expect quality production, so consider Reed just a No. 2 Fantasy tight end at best.
Vernon Davis (vs. MIN): The reports out of San Francisco have been positive this offseason about Davis, who was a colossal bust in 2014. It's led to several Fantasy owners wondering if they should buy into Davis this year, and he could certainly bounce back to a quality level of play. But don't use him as a starter in Week 1 against the Vikings. Minnesota was solid against tight ends in 2014, and the Vikings should be able to contain Davis in this matchup. If he starts off the season playing well then add him off waivers, but he's just a No. 2 option in the majority of leagues this week.
Bust alert: Jimmy Graham (at STL): Let's make it clear: No one is benching Graham this week. But if you're in a league where tight end is optional and you have Graham as a flex option then you might want to go in a different direction. The Rams have been amazing against tight ends in the Jeff Fisher era. Going back to 2012, a span of 48 games, St. Louis has allowed just 10 touchdowns to opposing tight ends and only four to reach double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league. Graham is part of that span of games when he was held to two catches for 25 yards on six targets in 2013 with New Orleans. He has a different quarterback and different opportunity with the Seahawks, but the Rams defense knows that as well. Graham was also held to four catches for 39 yards on eight targets against St. Louis in 2011, so he doesn't have a great history against the Rams in general.
Jets (vs. CLE): There isn't a lot to like about the Browns offense with McCown at quarterback and a suspect receiving corps led by Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins. Sure, Crowell could make some plays running the ball with the Jets missing Richardson up front, but if the Browns start chasing points, McCown could get turnover prone. We've been selling the Jets DST all offseason as a great Week 1 option because of this matchup, and we expect them to come through with this home game against the Browns.
Bills (vs. IND): The Bills DST finished No. 1 in standard leagues in 2014, and the addition of Rex Ryan should only make the unit better. They were drafted as a top-tier Fantasy option this season, but you might want to consider other options if possible in Week 1. The Colts come to town with a plethora of weapons, and even though Buffalo should slow down Luck and Co., it's doubtful the Bills will stop this high-powered offense enough to warrant starting in the majority of leagues. If you don't want to carry two DST units in Week 1 then hope the Bills defensive front takes advantage of the Indianapolis offensive line. But Luck has seen tough defensive units before and still dominated, which could easily be the case here. The Bills DST will have much better chances for success later in the season than now.
Brandon McManus (vs. BAL): The Broncos parted ways with Connor Barth to keep McManus, and he should be in line for a good season with a high-powered offense in that altitude. He was Denver's kicker to open last season, but he was just 9-of-13 on field goals before being replaced by Barth. McManus has a big leg, including a reported 70-yard field goal in training camp in August, and the Broncos should give him plenty of chances to succeed in Week 1. Baltimore allowed nine kickers to make multiple field goals last season, including five on the road. This should be a good week to trust McManus, and hopefully he'll come through all season.
Chandler Catanzaro (vs. NO): The Cardinals should move the ball at will.
Matt Prater (at SD): He was great to close the season in DET last year.
Mike Nugent (at OAK): CIN should have plenty of chances to score.
Dan Carpenter (vs. IND): The Bills aren't thrilled with Carpenter, who struggled in the preseason with three missed field goals and one missed extra point. That could be meaningless, like the preseason itself, especially since Carpenter was the No. 4 Fantasy kicker in 2014. But if you're looking at last year's stats then you have to notice the Colts allowed the fewest field goals in the NFL with just 15. And Buffalo could be without McCoy with a quarterback in Taylor making his first NFL start. If the offense stalls, Carpenter might not get many opportunities.